tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC January 14, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm PST
we will see you again tomorrow night. i got to tell you what's happening right now is that the scandal in new jersey is broadening into a bigger problem affecting state republican today, we heard the state of chris christie's denial. >> the last week has certainly tested this administration. >> chris christie is set to deliver his annual state of the state address. his fourth state of the state address. >> today, chris christie returned to the stage. >> to tout his bipartisan accomplishments. >> we have chosen to work together. these are our achieve. s. >> keeping his focus on all the other issues facing his constituents. >> the state of the state is good and getting better. >> not everyone is moving on, though. >>' what you have is political blood in the water. >> this last week has certainly tested this administration. >> the super committee is going to convene.
>> 51% say christie hasn't been completely honest. >> more subpoenas could come thursday. >> there's more investigations everywhere. >> new jersey politics is rough and tumble. >> retribution and sort of pay back. >> mistakes were clearly made. i know our citizens deserve better. >> today is all about bridge-gate. the scandal surrounding the lane closures near the george washington bridge. enveloping his administration, whether he likes it or not. >> choice, not chance, determines your destiny. so let us choose wisely. >> this is the most important thing that chris christie said today. >> without a doubt, we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure that this breach of trust does not happen again. >> but which christie do you believe? the one who said that, or the one who said this. >> if you were to get a subpoena
for whatever reason, what would you do? >> i'm not going to speculate on that. >> so there was chris christie last week, very clearly saying if he gets a subpoena, he might not cooperate with investigators. the new jersey legislature is getting subpoenas ready as we speak for the christie gang. and everyone in the christie gang is surely lawyering up in anticipation of those subpoena ps. one member of the gang has already publicly refused to cooperate with the investigation and took the fifth amendment. it is entirely possible that the lawyers for the christie gang will advise all of their clients to take the fifth amendment. and when you listen to chris christie's answer about subpoenas last week, it is possible to imagine the spectacle of the governor of new jersey taking the fifth amendment instead of cooperating with the investigations. joining me now, msnbc's joy reid and hunter walker, national affairs reporter for "talking points memo."
joy, this is an amazing list that's going to be hit with subpoenas. obviously bridget anne kelly gets subpoenaed. obviously she will take the fifth amendment. >> i would offer her immunity. she or wildstein would be the plump person to offer immunity to. and she's the person who's zeroed in on as the scapegoat. chris christie very carefully and very lawyerly fashion said she terminated him because she lied to me. knew nothing about an advance saying she lied to him. during this come to gee zest meeting, if anybody has the information don't tell me, tell my lawyer. tell my council or tell my chief of staff within an hour. >> he told two different versions of that in the press conference. that's the first version. that was the prepared version. then an hour later in the press
conference he said tell me or those two. he included himself in that possibility. we don't know which one is the true version. or if either one of him is true. they could both be false. but the really tuning -- stunning thing is where would we be tonight if chris christie upon reading her e-mail the way he says he did that morning said to her, called her, got her in the office, said to her, explain this. where would we be? >> and not only that, but he also was getting e-mails from the members of the state legislature we now know as well. he was getting -- clearly people were reaching out to him. three days into this, coming forward with the photo at 9/11 memorial in new york. people snarling, panicking, calling the transportation department, what is going on. he seems to say he knew absolutely nothing. asked nothing of his senior staff while he was being asked, demanded to know what is going
on by members of the state legislature. >> it seems to me the fair -- a fair interpretation, there could be others of chris christie not asking bridget anne kelly about that e-mail as soon as he read it is he did not want to be exposed to her answer. he did not want to hear what she had to say. >> absolutely. but, you know, as joy pointed out, he sort of said he never heard about this. he wasn't in touch with the officials who ordered the closures. and now we've seen photographic evidence. "the wall street journal" had one picture, we had another one today that showed that he was literally with the two main guys as the lanes were closed. >> i think we have one of those pictures that we can put up as we talk about this. i hope we do. so there's wildstein in the red tie there. this is on 9/11, while at that moment, the bridge is clogged thanks to wildstein and bridget anne kelly and maybe chris
christie. >> he said he hadn't seen wildstein in ages. >> there's that moment. now, anybody who's been in politics around these guys knows that when you're doing something for the boss, you're doing him a favor, you slip that in his ear at that moment, things are going great in ft. lee. you let him know that because you take credit for it. >> right. and even assuming they went rogue, which is sort of the christie explanation, they were hearing from mayor sokolich throughout that week saying hey, we have a huge problem here, help us. so you think they might go to christie if this was legitimately a traffic study and say by the way, the mayor is complaining about this. and he says he heard nothing. >> joy, david wildstein, publicly begging for immunity last week at his hearing.
if you did an immunity package with wildstein and with bridget anne kelly, you might be able to get the whole story from those two. >> absolutely, you would. and i think the key to this, too, is that you do have stepien out there as well, someone else who could theoretically know what's going on. >> he seems a little offcenter. as a prosecutor, if you have to make these immunity guesses, you want to know who are the richest sources. >> the only reason i bring stepien back in, in all places the national review, chris christie wouldn't have had to say to anyone, go out and close bridges. his crime directive in running for re-election was not to be governor until 2018, it was to make the case to the republican party, his real constituency, the donor class of the republican party that he had this great bipartisanship. these 60 democrats that endorsed him are the way he does business. if he's saying to his political staff, go out and get me the kras, including the democrat who
has a $1 billion development, if he's saying do that, i don't want to know how you're doing it, but get it done, he's already created the atmosphere for them to have play hardball with any democrat that resisted. he already laid the ground work. that's part of stepien. the port guys couldn't have had the passion to do this on their own. >> but it's such a peculiar choice to do this. it strikes me that you wouldn't want to do this favor for the boss if you weren't sure this was the favor he wanted done. this was the way he wanted it done. i want to talk about kevin o'dowd, the chief of staff in this person. he's the one person who separates bridged anne kelly from chris christie.
and it was chris christie's plan until now to make him the next attorney general of new jersey, and the senate was prepared to confirm him until we started talking about it and others immediately after his press conference. it was a routine moment in the press conference where he was asked, are you going to go forward with o'dowd for attorney general? he said oh, yeah, sure. i'm sure others were saying how can it be that the chief of staff of this gang that has pulled this thing off is now going to be the chief state prosecutor with jurisdiction over this case? that seems stopped as of now. it seems like o'dowd can go nowhere. >> except to a hearing to testify. i mean, i was just speaking with one of the legislators involved in the investigation and she was saying, you know, on thursday, we can expect to start see some of these subpoenas. and the quote, unquote, usual suspects are going to testify. >> o'dowd is going to be subpoenaed. the question is, is he going to take the fifth amendment?
>> back to your first point about the fifth amendment, one thing that's really interested here, i spoke with an assemblyman that's been leading the investigation. i spoke to him the day before wildstein testified. he said king wildstein is going to plea the fifth. he said he didn't expect that because this is a civil matter up till that point. that's sort of an admission that there might be criminal charges here. so the fact that we've already seen one guy pleading the fifth and we might see others is sort of a sign of just how serious and potentially criminal this is. >> yeah. i mean, that was, you know, i think -- i can't imagine a lawyer not telling him to plead the fifth under those circumstances. and i mean, when i look at this list, i just don't know who can testify. you know, david sampson, christie's chairman of the port authority. his hands are filthy in this thing. he writes, he's threatening pat foye, the one honest man at the port authority fighting against this thing with gangster
language that we recited here last night about, you know, he's playing in traffic. he's in a lot of trouble. joy, i don't see anybody here other than pat foye, who's a nice guy who can testify about this without pleading the fifth. he has real jeopardy. >> he also said wildstein did it. he pointed the finger at wildstein. so everyone is pointing a finger at each other. going back to o'dowd, he's one of two people that christie told his staff to go and tell if, in fact, they've done anything wrong. he was one of the people there. so you're saying at the same time tell this guy, the future attorney general is the one you want to tell what you've done. but for christie, the broader problem for him is that he's built his whole reputation and his whole presidential ambitions on this idea that he's got this bipartisanship. if it turns out it was coerced,
that it was coerced through a series of carrots and sticks he was using against democrats, he wasn't just naturally somebody african-americans and urban voters were for but it really was coerced, that undermines his being a candidate in 2016, apart from the legal matter. >> the standard, you get fired by chris christie if he doesn't like the tone of your e-mail, which is why he fired the campaign manager. he read the e-mails of michael druniak, the press secretary on this showing last night, his e-mails are much worse about the mayor of ft. lee. according to the christie standard, certainly when those e-mails get read at these hearings, he has to be fired on the spot. >> right. and, you know, you saw another christie spokesman colin reed give a statement to cnn today in which he said, you know, these are wild conspiracy theories coming from left wing blogs. he said that to cnn. this is their sort of on the books official statement. and that's the tone.
so, you know, it makes the idea that chris christie has this objection to impolite communication really preposterous. >> i don't think any of these people can survive this investigation. david sampson must be fired from the port authority. bill baroni already gone, wildstein already gone. kevin o'dowd must be let go for imcompetence if nothing else. he's the chief of staff of the operation that did this. he was assigned, according to christie's story to investigate this. he failed completely to find the wrong doers, charlie mckenna, the same thing. the chief council assigned to christie to investigate it. and according to christie got fooled and couldn't find what he was supposed to look for. bridget kelly, already gone. there's going to be just a wipeout of this whole staff before this is over. >> and think about it, the one completely implausible scenario is the deputy chief of staff
telling no one superior to her cooked up an entire scheme to shut down part of this bridge going over to the new york side. the idea that she is the top person in this operation is so absurd that it just invites more questions. and those what are superior to her, it brings o'dowd. it brings it so close to chris christie that i wouldn't be surprised if he didn't testify. >> absolutely. and he's probably already engaged private defense council in this. thank you both for joining me tonight. coming up, another of chris christie's many scandals. and later, america's most experienced and most careful election analyst charlie cook, the venerable charlie cook will join us along with david corn to discuss what this means for chris christie's presidential campaign. i insist that christie's campaign is now hopeless. and i can't wait to hear what charlie cook has to say.
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the good and the bad. this is not the tone that i've set over the last four years in this building. it's not the environment i've worked so hard to achieve. and so i amex ordinarily disappointed by this. but this is the exception. it is not the rule of what's happened over the last four years in this administration. >> and here's another exception. the christie administration interfering with the prosecution of a new jersey sheriff. in 2008, before chris christie was elected, governor and prosecutors began investigating sheriff debra trout and two of her staff for allegations that trout forced employees to sign loyalty oaths and failed to conduct mandatory legal background checks. five months after christie took the oath of office, a grand jury handed down a 43-count indict against sheriff and her two staffers. when the charges became public, governor christie assured he would have this whole thing
thrown out. that sounded like bluster. then the state killed the case. chris christie's attorney general paul o'dowd assigned a deputy attorney general to take control and the indictments were dropped and three career prosecutors were forced out of their jobs. joining me now, one of those former prosecutors who lost his job and republican richard murt, a former new jersey assemblyman who ran against chris christie in the 2009 republican gubernatorial primary. before we get into the details of this case, which i think is very important, given what we've been hearing for the last week, and the governor saying this is an exception, not the way we work. ben, first to you. i just want to get from you, your reaction to the last week and how surprised and
unsurprised you are. >> that's a great question, lawrence. the people that were aware of what happened in hunterdon, my fellow prosecutors, investigators, people who worked on the case, i suspect are not surprised at all what happened. in fact, there are very strong parallels between what happened in hunterdon four years ago and bridgegate now. to begin with, most importantly, you're dealing with a really egregious misuse of governmental authority for political ends. in bridgegate, you're dealing with the port authority. in new jersey, the attorney general is the chief law enforcement officer charged with impartially and fairly enforcing both the criminal and civil laws in new jersey. >> and unlike a lot of other states has direct control over county local prosecutors. >> that's true. there's a statute called the criminal justice act of 1970 which confers that authority on
the attorney general. but typically, that power is invoked very sparingly. typically when there's a conflict, say, for example, someone in a prosecutor's office who's accused of a crime and there's a conflict where it doesn't seem appropriate for the prosecutor's office to be pursuing that particular individual, the state will come in. typically, however, cases that are brought in the counties remain in the counties. so you're correct, but that power is very rarely used. that wasn't the case in hunterdon, however. what's interesting is that when evidence of wrongdoing arose with respect to the sheriff's office, we requested the assistance of the attorney general. pre- christie. >> and she's a christie supporter sending her staff.
>> that's what e-mails certainly suggest pertaining to an open public records act. more importantly, the sheriff also was involved in a group of law enforcement that basically obtained donations for the christie campaign. so yes, there is a strong connection between sheriff trout and the administration, particularly the lieutenant governor who was also a sheriff. she was the sheriff of monmouth county at the time debra trout was the sheriff of hunterdon county. so it's true. any typical case, we diligently acquired evidence over a period of time. at one point, we obtained a judge's authorization to conduct a search of both the sheriff's office and residences based on the cumulation of evidence. what's interesting about that and what's so important, that was the first finding by a
neutral, detached magistrate that there was, in fact, evidence of wrongdoing that our office had obtained. that's the first finding. the second will be the grand jury determination. but in the midst of this investigation, we sent numerous letters to the attorney general's office saying there's a conflict here. we shouldn't be investigating another county law enforcement officer and moreover, we're dealing with systemic corruption. those requests were rebuffed. we never received any assistance despite these requests. that changed dramatically when the indictment -- >> as soon as you got indictments. >> as soon as we got indictments, boy did things change. >> i want to get your surprise level to the last week of revelations. >> i was stunned to see this kind of stupidity displayed. i really was. >> the stupidity, but what about the power plays and the attempts
at apparent retribution, that sort of thing? >> well, there is a history, as you know, of this administration playing hardball with folks, brass knuckle politics, take no prisoner, let your enemies bleed, that kind of thing. i still can't speak to the actual motivation, whether it was or whether it was something else. all i know is that there was clearly an abuse of power in ft. lee by port authority people. i also know that someone in the governor's office, who has now been fired knew about it, and i know that a growing circle of people who are high level christie administration appointees were aware of the situation. >> knowing, as you do, the way it works in trenton, knowing the christie operation, what is your sense. and we understand this is a guess. what is your sense of the
likelihood that a bridget anne kelly, a deputy chief of staff, would be doing this without the knowledge of the chief of staff and that it could happen without the knowledge of the governor who's just a couple of steps away? >> it seems very unlikely and it seems so unlikely that i personally can't believe the governor's explanation. >> yeah. ben, the -- the way you lost your job was absolutely stunning with this. deputy attorney general who came into town and just wiped you guys out. you impanelled a grand jury that returned these indictments. and those grand jurors were quoted in "the new york times" as being outraged at what happened. they thought they did careful work on what was a very clear cut case of abuse. >> absolutely. i should point out that the -- i was not the prosecutor who presented the case to the grand jury. his name is bill mcgovern. he was an experienced prosecutor
both with the attorney general's office, the monmouth county prosecutors, 20 years of experience. he knew what he was doing. michael powell who wrote "the new york times" story deserves a tremendous amount of credit for locating these jurors, because that's what makes the case. don't have to take our word for it. listen to these four jurors who were questioned separately and say that mcgovern did a meticulous job, and that the evidence presented was overwhelming. there was unanimity among the grand jurors that serious crimes had taken place. and with a two-page letter, the attorney general basically disparaged, not only the work of mcgovern but also the grand jurors. i think that's why they're upset. >> here's a guy, this guy rousseau, who's the assistant to the sheriff, who's indicted. and his reaction is, no problem. chris christie will take care of it. >> that's a pretty remarkable statement. indicates a lot of confidence on his part.
>> and he was right, parentally. >> again, all i can do is look at that statement and say it's really surprising to me that anyone would have had that kind of cock-sure attitude. >> well, it turns out he had nothing to worry about. thank you both very much for joining us tonight. coming up, what has the last week done to chris christie's presidential campaign? and republicans blocked a senate vote on extending emergency unemployment insurance today. can harry reid figure out a way around that? ezra klein will join me. this is for you. ♪ [ male announcer ] bob's heart attack didn't come with a warning. today his doctor has him on a bayer aspirin regimen to help reduce the risk of another one. if you've had a heart attack, be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. really? 25 grams of protein. what do we have? all four of us, together? 24. he's low fat too,
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>> four balanced budgets. passed with bipartisan support. teacher tenure reform, passed with bipartisan sculpt support. a cap on property tax, passed with bipartisan support. we acted and we acted together. even though the competition among states is fierce, the record on this is clear. no state in this country has shown more bipartisan cooperation and governance over the last four years than new jersey and our people are proud
of it. >> that was chris christie today saying what you could expect to hear in chris christie's acceptance speech at the next republican national convention where he would be accepting the next republican nomination for president. the speech he could give only if he could somehow survive attacks against him by other republican candidates in the republican presidential primaries, attacks that would now surely include reference to the out of control christie staff. >> i am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team. >> joining me now, charlie cook, editor and publisher of "the cook political report" and msnbc political analyst david corn for mother jones and msnbc political
analyst. okay, charlie, nobody brings a more sober and careful look at these kinds of election prospects. the senate as a whole and the individual race. i'm dying to hear what charlie cook thinks about chris christie's prospects for the presidency now. >> i think it's a convenient narrative to say the front-runner has been derailed. but i defy anybody to go to the iowa straw poll in 2011 or spend time around republican primary voters in 2012 and tell me that chris christie had a decent chance of winning a republican nomination. i mean, when you think of michelle bachmann, herman cain, rick santorum, rick perry, newt gingrich. i mean really? chris christie? i think republicans would be smart to move to a center right candidate, but that's 23409 where the republican primary electorate is. and i don't think they were going to be there.
so i don't think this has changed christie's odds of being the nominee that much. i don't think they were high to begin with. >> david corn, i completely agree with all of that. i've never seen a way for chris christie to get the republican nomination. but now, i'm starting to doubt whether he can even mount a campaign. >> well, you know, i think we all agree here. i mean, chris christie was the candidate for karl rove and the koch brothers and the funding community. the funding base of the republican party. the gravitational pull of the republican voting electoral has moved so far to the right that chris christie by talking about bipartisanship as we just saw him would almost disqualify himself in a lot of states. in iowa, in south carolina, throughout the south. and, you know, i think there was a way he might have been able to thread the 23450edle if there are a couple of good tea party-like candidates, rand paul, marco rubio, ted cruz.
they divide the tea party vote. maybe he could survive the first couple of state, come in second and third. hang in there. this is what rudy giuliani thought, didn't work out too well for him. sort of the holy grail of the republican nonextreme caucus, which is relatively small, that you can do this. and, you know, christie had a -- you know, had as good a shot as anyone, but indied aez charlie said, it's not much of a shot. i'm still in the camp is there would always be health issues with a christie candidacy. after the weak he's had this past week, i can't believe his health is any better than it was a month ago. >> let's listen to how it would go for christie. or will go for christie out there on the campaign trail. let's listen to rick santorum who might be out there on the campaign trail running against him, or someone just like rick santorum will be out there. let's thereon what he had to say. >> personnel is policy. and the people that you hire are the policies that are implemented.
and what we've seen is two, three, four, i mean, there's now more e-mail, i don't know how many more have come out, that's very clear that the personnel there was not sensitive to what seemed to be a fairly obvious wrong thing to do. >> all right. let's play this like a republican debate stage. and we will now play chris christie's response to that, which is one sentence that he gave in his press conference last week. >> that i delegate enormous authority to my staff. and enormous authority to my cabinet. >> charlie cook. we can imagine a lot of republican tv ads against him for that i delegate enormous authority line. >> put aside the whole bridge thing. it's not that christie is that -- is ideologically -- i mean, yes, he's ideologically incompatible with where the republican base is, but it's not
just imcompatibility, they hit him. they viscerally hate him. and so, i mean, and this was not going to be pretty. forget the bridge. >> after all christie did dare to make physical contact with barack obama. it's almost like case closed. and, you know, he's attacked the shutdown in washington. he is a conservative in many ways. he's not a moderate. to call him a mod vat a misnomer. but his temperament is such that he's not an outright obama hater and that's enough to say you can't survive in this shark tank of the republican primary electorate these days. >> let's listen to what john huntsman said this morning on morning joe about this. because he is also someone who might very well be on the republican primary presidential debate stage. let's thereon what he said about this. >> i have to tell you that having run a governor's office,
and joe has done the same thing, and every governor's office, whether your state is large or small, it's pretty much organized the same way. your neighbor is the chief of staff and your deputy chief of staff is right down the hall. and everybody knows day in and day out what's playing out in your state down to, you know, a minuscule detail. so there is something here that just does not connect fully in terms of how communication was handled, and the issues that were put forward to the governor. >> there is john huntsman coming as close as he can to saying oh, come on, chris christie knew. everybody knows in that office space what you're all doing. charlie cook, as you say, put the bridge aside, could this party, could the republican party really nominate a governor from new jersey, especially after their experience with nominating a former massachusetts governor?
another northeast governor next time? >> well, i think there is a natural suspicion in each party for any statewide elected official who can win a lot of votes from the other side. it's -- there's sort of a suspicion that they're tainted. and obviously coming from the northeast, and winning a lot of democratic votes in new jersey made him suspect. but to part of huntsman's point, and i neemt nearly as enamored with this story as a lot of people are. but to me, let's just assume for a second that christie didn't know. let's assume that for a second. the fact is that there was an environment, a culture in the office that convinced some high level people to think that there was okay and acceptable. that sort of is enough. i mean, and that's -- to me, you know, that's probably more likely than christie said hey, shut down five lanes or three lanes or whatever on the bridge. but the thing is that this was not going to happen. this really wasn't. >> yeah. i mean, you're right, charlie, obviously. it would be enough.
and also there's the simple fact that even if chris christie didn't know, voters would expect him to know. they would be electing someone who they would want to be in a position where he would know what his staff was up to. charlie cook and david corn, thank you both very much for joining me tonight. >> sure thing, lawrence. >> coming up, readings from twitter. the meanest things that we can say on television. coming up. >> claire you really suck a pig's [ bleep ]. [ male announcer ] staples has everything you need to launch your big idea. adding thousands of products online every day. from hard hats and goggles. to tools and cleaning products... to state of the art computers, to coffee to keep you fueled.
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[ male announcer ] ask your doctor today if eliquis is right for you. >> i can't figure out if elisabeth moss is attractive or not. does this help you figure it out? >> that, of course, was the lovely and talented elisabeth moss reading her me tweet for jimmy kimmel. we took the same idea to capitol hill and got senators and representatives to say things that you will not believe you are hearing from their mouths. ♪
>> claire cmc, you really suck a pig's [ bleep ]. >> paul ryan has such pretty blue eyes. sometimes it's easy to forget he's satan incarnate. >> hey, i can't decide whether you're stupid or willfully deceitful. can you help me out? >> when was the last time you heard voices. it's important to take your medicine regularly. what was that? >> he's a [ bleep ] bag on real world mtv. he's a [ bleep ] now. >> i saw david vitter in starbucks this morning. #loser. >> damn, you suck. okay. thank you. >> chris murphy, ct, your ignorance is overshadowed only by your naievta, lmao, which i
assume means legislators make america outstanding. >> of course you would, you're a typical #democrap. hash resign. >> at jason in the house, you are proof that this country has gone to hell in a hand basket. >>@sen schumer. yep, you're about as original as an old pair of shoes. >> is lawrence o'donnell really an idiot or does he just play one on tv? well, that's not really for me to answer. bernie, what do you think? is lawrence o'donnell really an idiot or does he just play one on tv? you want to take more time? >> yes, yes. >> maybe check with the guys on this one? all right, we'll go to a commercial.
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one a day men's 50+ is a complete multivitamin designed for men's health concerns as we age. with 7 antioxidants to support cell health. one a day men's 50+. >> i think we all know that there are a lot of hardworking americans out there who are desperately looking for a job. and unemployment insurance is not only good for them and necessary for them, but it's
also good for our economy as a whole and will actually accelerate our growth if we go ahead and get that done. >> after the president said that this morning, senate republicans blocked an extension of unemployment insurance for nearly 1.5 million americans whose benefits have expired. unless the congress acts, the number of jobless americans losing unemployment compensation is expected to increase by 72,000 people per week. republicans in the senate say they are not finished trying to come up with a compromise and now some of them realize they have an incentive. they have discovered that republicans receive unemployment benefits, too. the a.p. reports the standoff infuriates people, such as lita nest who lost her job as a civilian contractor at peterson air force base in august 2012 and just received her final check from the unemployment office. i'm registered as a republican, but if they continue to use this not extending our aid, i'm probably changing to democrat she said as she took a break
from a computer training class at the pikes peak work force center. people in our district who vote no on this, i'm not going to support them. joining me now, "the washington post's" ezra klein. so it turns out, republicans have discovered that republicans receive unemployment benefits, too. >> well, we'll see how much they've actually discovered it, right? they haven't actually extended them yet. it's actually worth saying a compromise was offered on the floor today. so typically, unemployment benefits, emergency unemployment benefits for these, only for the long-term unemployed are offered under rule where is they don't end up being paid for. it's emergency funding, it happens during recessions and you want to increase the amount of money going into the economy, in order, as president obama said, to juice growth. democrats agreed to a compromise in which they would be paid for. but what happened sequestration cuts to medicare providers would be extended for an additional year after 2024. that is the deal that got knocked off the table today, can
one in which democrats took the step and said fine, we'll break with normal traditions, we'll get this done. and that turned out to not be enough either. >> so ezra, is there a possible move here for harry reid? is there a pay-for they can find in the senate that they can get a majority vote on? >> it just depends on what republicans want to do. i mean, sometimes i think we have this tendency to take sort of the rhetoric lawmakers offer as if it's sort of like laws of physics, right? as if there's something out there that makes the mathematics work. in the bush years, the republicans extended unemployment benefits five times. in the obama years, they've been extending them, too. it's not really a harry reid question. it's a gop question, a mitch mcconnell question, whether or not they decide to do this and move forward with it. and of course, after they do it in the senate, if they do it in the senate, it has to pass john boehner's house. that's going to be a much tougher battle on its own.
but this is one of those things where there's not some pledge they've all signed. there's not some sort of law of political physics that is keeping them from doing it. if they just decided to extend jobless benefits to people who had the misfortune to be on the bottom rung of the labor force during the worst financial crisis, which is not caused by ordinary workers in the last generation, if they decide to keep helping those people out, they could just change their vote and keep helping them out. >> let's listen to harry reid and mitch mcconnell describe their standoff. >> we have a filibuster again in front of us. first, republicans claimed they were filibustering these benefits because the extension was not paid for. so reid of rhode island came forward with a pay-for amendment. then republicans explained that they were fill bustering because they have not been able to offer amendments. >> we've been on this bill a week. a week. no amendments have been allowed. it is pretty clear that the majority leader is not
interested in having an open amendment process. >> there is mcconnell wanting an open amendment process. and harry reid wants a closed amendment process, accepts one where he thinks will get enough votes. >> the mar jo ity wants a more closed process in order to not put forward a bunch of amendments meant to embarrass them. and the minority wants an open process so they can show that the majority, if they could just get the unemployment amendments done, if only they would repeal obama care, whatever it is they want to do. >> i do think this is a cheap washington trick, right? to enwrap all of this in a thicket of process. there is a simple question on the table here, which is is congress going to help keeping folks who are long-term unemploymented just barely
afloat in this economy. and they can just decide to do that. it's not us about amendments. they can just decide to do it as they did under bush and under obama and those folks will continue to get help. >> ezra klein gets tonight's "last word." thank you for getting me out of my new jersey state of mind tonight. >> thank you. new weeds in the garden state. let's play "hardball." >> good evening. i'm chris matthews back up in new york. let me start tonight with. this governor chris christie now faces the ticking clock. each second takes him closer to the moment when those he has blamed for this bridge scandal testify under oath. if he has signalled to any of them or any other staffer or appointee that this is the way he wanted things done, this story will develop like an old polaroid snapshot. we'll see the reality that has appeared until now only in murk and shadow.